Divorce can be a difficult, and often lengthy, process. But it is possible to achieve a ‘good' divorce for you and your family. The process of achieving a ‘good’ divorce should start from the moment it is considered in the first place, rather than when legal proceedings begin.
- Consider your children
- Be realistic in your expected outcomes
- Reach out for support
- Alternatives to court
The advice set out below is aimed to encourage you and your spouse or partner to consider how to navigate the difficult process of divorce in the most efficient and least disruptive way possible. Often, this means trying to agree things outside of the Court process. The overstretched family courts are facing long delays, and this will not be beneficial either for you or your children.
Whilst sometimes easier said than done, if you can, try and keep the lines of communication open with your spouse or partner. Should your communications with one another become strained, or argumentative, set yourself some boundaries. Outline what you’ll communicate about directly, or whether certain issues should only be discussed in mediation, or through solicitors.
Children should be kept out of adult conversations about separation, finances and to a certain extent, the issues about arrangements of spending time with each parent. It is very easy to forget about the impact the divorce might be having on the children. Although divorce will end your marriage, it won’t end the relationship between you as parents and you are likely to be in each other’s lives for some time.
Consider your children
When considering a divorce, it's important to consider your children before making a final decision. Continuing the open communication, it is important to discuss how children will be affected and how you can support them during the process;
- Attachments - Consider how attached your children are to each parent. If they are close with both parents, you may need to go through the divorce with the expectation that you'll be co-parenting.
- Recent loss - Grief affects children just as strongly as adults, so if your children have recently gone through the loss of a loved one or a pet, moved house, or changed schools, divorcing at this point may affect them more deeply.
- Conflict at home - How much conflict children witness at home is important to think about. Whether this is a regular occurrence, or how intense the conflict is, doesn't always make separation easier for children, but it can temper the disappointment.
- Economic stability - Think about how a divorce would impact your children’s economic stability in the short and long term. Consider your ability to pay for your children’s necessities such as home, food, and clothing. It’s important to maintain your children’s routine, so consider whether any activities they are used to can be paid for.
- Collaboration - Think about whether or not you'll be able to collaborate with your ex. Demonstrating a willingness to communicate with your ex effectively, and often, will convey to your children a sense of stability as you go through this time of intense family change.
Be realistic in your expected outcome
The overriding objective of the court is to achieve a fair outcome for both parties, taking into account all relevant circumstances. Whilst the starting point for division of assets is equality, 50/50, there may be reasons to depart from that starting point in favour of one party. Often, it is difficult to accept that the assets would need to be divided anything other than equally, and that after divorce both parties need to make economies. Being realistic as to the assets that are available and how those can be divided to best mean everyone’s needs, most importantly the children’s, is going to make the process easier to navigate.
Reach out for support
The emotional trauma of a divorce can have a lasting effect, and whilst lawyers are there to support clients through the process, it may be wise to seek professional support from a counsellor or therapist. You can also lean on friends and family, but understand that they will going through their own process of dealing with your divorce as well.
Other options than court
Court proceedings, while they can be helpful and set clear parameters for all parties, are not the only answer when looking to sort out finances or disagreements about child arrangements. There are other options including mediation, collaborative law, arbitration, even direct discussions if you and your spouse can do this.
Find out more
Divorce is a very personal matter, and you should instruct a lawyer who suits you. You’ll need to know that you are being listened to and that your lawyer is guiding you through the process with your best interests in mind. Sometimes, your lawyer will need to give advice that is difficult for you to hear. It is important that you can trust that your lawyer will be transparent with you, so that you can manage your own expectations and be realistic.
For any help or support with separation, child arrangement orders, or supporting your children, then please contact our dedicated Family Law team.